Support for churches during the pandemic

07 April 2020
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Block
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister,
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for the support extended to charitable and non-profit organizations in the new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. This subsidy will provide significant support to many as they work for the benefit of Canadians during these challenging times.
The charitable and non-profit sector is playing a crucial role across Canada. Religious charities foster vibrant social networks, spark local volunteerism, and foster community resiliency. Among our affiliates, for example, many churches and organizations are using technology and creativity to offer social support and the relational connections that are so important to mental health in these anxious times, as well as tangible physical assistance in their local communities such as staffing food banks and other acts of service.
As you know, the charitable and non-profit sector has been substantially affected by the economic impact of the pandemic. The increased wage subsidy will be a significant help to many charities, and we are grateful for this. However, some charities and non-profit organizations may be unable to demonstrate a 30% shortfall based on a monthly reference period. To address this concern, some flexibility could be built into the wage subsidy program to allow such groups to receive the subsidy now, based on a calculation of their revenue for a six- or twelve-month period that begins March 15, 2020 and compared to the same period in the previous year, with the understanding that:
  • if they fail to meet the 30% shortfall threshold, they will pay back a pro-rata amount based on the differential between their actual shortfall and 30%, and
  • that this repayment will be made over an agreed-upon time period.
In addition to a wage subsidy for retaining employees, the charitable sector urgently requires support for operations and programs beyond staffing in order to continue to offer meaningful help to Canadians. We ask that you give serious consideration to the following proposals:
1. Matching funds for charitable donations: We ask the government to explore matching charitable donations, and to call on Canadians who are able to help more in these challenging times. Matching funds would help charities meet non-employment related program expenses. Donations could be matched on a month by month basis or be based on the amount received by the charity in the similar period last year.
2. Increased tax incentives: An increase in the charitable tax credit may encourage Canadians who can to donate more. An additional option would be to remove the capital gains tax on donations of real estate or private company shares to charities.

3. Stabilization Fund (granting program): In order to enable the sector to complement government services and supports to meaningfully help Canadians, it may be necessary to create a straight granting program to organizations.
Be assured of our prayers for you and your family, as well as your colleagues as you lead Canada through this pandemic.
May God grant you wisdom.
Yours sincerely,
Bruce J. Clemenger
President, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

cc. other party leaders and cabinet ministers
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